Facing Temptation And Overcoming!
At a point in the Ministry of Jesus Christ, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray as John the Baptist taught his disciples. What then followed became the model prayers should be patterned in. One of the points in the prayer for the discussion is: “And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13a). This point is very important because we live in a world that is ruled by the forces of darkness with the sole aim of making every human being live defeated lives. That is why on a daily basis humans face temptations, which are actually brought on through suggestions by the evil one. However, our responses to these suggestions form the basis of our character. As humans, we are created with all kinds of desires and they jostle for gratification. Since these desires are inborn, they are awakened by suggestions, which cause them to burn within, and combined with flesh, seek gratification at all cost. The devil since creation has perfected his art on how to make the right suggestion for the targeted desire to be gratified. In Genesis 3, when he went to the woman, his questioning and suggestion aroused a desire in the woman that in itself was not wrong but the manner of gratification was terribly wrong. The devil suggested that after eating the fruit, she and Adam will be like God. The couple would have reminded him that they already bore the image of God, and bearing His likeness was on track. Unfortunately, they listened to the enemy and disobeyed God, which led to their expulsion from a habitat that was specifically and perfectly designed for them. The initial aim of the enemy is not for man to hate God but: To make man forget God, forget His word, and lose the power of discernment and discrimination.
Going through Scriptures, one would find that temptations come in (but not limited) two particular phases of life: On the way to success for a godly and respected soul in order to discredit and destroy the testimony, and at the height of one’s success to cause a fall. Joseph at the age of seventeen faced this formidable enemy and was able to overcome him. This made Joseph a discerning and wise young man: which were the bedrock of his character and equally set him above his peers and elders (Genesis 39 and 41). Four particular lessons we can draw from the life of Joseph to help form or correct our character and help us live above temptation by the help of the Holy Spirit are:
1. Do not be weakened by your circumstances. The enemy puts out baits (suggestions) on a daily basis to make us turn our backs on God. For example, Esau is described as an immoral and godless man because when faced with hunger, he sold his birthright without batting an eyelid to assuage a momentary setback (Hebrews 12:16-17).
2. Do not be deceived by persuasions and flattering from ‘well meaning’ friends, family and colleagues. All ‘well meaning’ suggestions must be weighed by God’s word to determine if it is true or false. A half truth is false as we saw with the enemy’s suggestion to the woman (Genesis 3). Remember, the road to hell is littered with ‘well meaning’ suggestions and intentions.
3. Do not be gentle with your emotions. Deal with them decisively until they bow to the principles of God: “Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1Corinthians 9:27). You may argue that the ‘heart wants what the heart wants’. But be quick to remember that this same heart is very deceitful and its wants are false (Jeremiah 17:9). We must learn from Grace to say ‘NO’ like Joseph to every appearance of evil no matter what. If not we will be in danger of denying the existence of God.
4. Do not get confused with the immediate results of standing your ground. The immediate results do not show the whole picture as we saw with Joseph saying ‘NO’ and landing in prison. Remain faithful in the face of the heat and God will be with you just as He was with Joseph. After all, you only see a segment of the picture you are in, but God sees the whole picture!
May the mercy of God keep you from every form of temptation and may His victorious right arm deliver you from the evil one in Jesus Christ name. Also, may God bless you as you stop your ears against the suggestions of the enemy and determine like Joseph, Daniel and countless others, to stand your ground in Christ Jesus.